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Native American and Indigenous Experience for Middle Grade and YA Readers

Books that authentically reflect the Native American and Indigenous experience.

Middle Grade Fiction Titles

Cover of Ancestor Approved: Intertr
Cynthia L. Smith (editor)

This collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

Cover of The Barren Grounds: The Mi
David A.
Robertson

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. 

Cover of The Case of Windy : A Migh
Michael
Hutchinson

Sam, Otter, Atim, and Chickadee are four inseparable cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. Nicknamed the Mighty Muskrats for their habit of laughing, fighting, and exploring together, the cousins find that each new adventure adds to their reputation. When a visiting archaeologist goes missing, the cousins decide to solve the mystery of his disappearance. In the midst of community conflict, family concerns, and environmental protests, the four get busy following every lead.

Cover of Healer of the Water Monste
Brian
Young

When Nathan goes to visit his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, he knows he's in for a pretty uneventful summer, with no electricity or cell service. Still, he loves spending time with Nali and with his uncle Jet. One night, while lost in the nearby desert, Nathan finds someone extraordinary: a Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story--a Water Monster--in need of help.

Cover of How I Became a Ghost
Tim
Tingle

A Choctaw boy tells the story of his tribe's removal from the only land his people had ever known, and how their journey to Oklahoma led him to become a ghost, one with the ability to help those he left behind.

Cover of I Can Make This Promise
Christine
Day

All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers. Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.

Cover of In the Footsteps of Crazy
Joseph
Marshall

Jimmy McClean is a Lakota boy—though you wouldn’t guess it by his name: his father is part white and part Lakota, and his mother is Lakota. When he embarks on a journey with his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, he learns more and more about his Lakota heritage—in particular, the story of Crazy Horse, one of the most important figures in Lakota and American history. Through his grandfather’s tales about the famous warrior, Jimmy learns more about his Lakota heritage and, ultimately, himself.

Cover of Rez Dogs
Joseph
Bruchac

Twelve-year-old Malian lives with her grandparents on a Wabanaki reservation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

YA Fiction Titles

Cover of Brothers of the Buffalo: a
Joseph
Bruchac

In 1874, the U.S. Army sent troops to subdue and move the Native Americans of the southern plains to reservations. Brothers of the Buffalo follows Private Washington Vance Jr., an African-American calvaryman, and Wolf, a Cheyenne warrior, during the brief and brutal war that followed. Filled with action and suspense from both sides of the battle, this is a tale of conflict and unlikely friendship in the Wild West.

Cover of Elatsoe
Darcy Little
Badger

Elatsoe--Ellie for short--lives in an alternate contemporary America shaped by the ancestral magics and knowledge of its Indigenous and immigrant groups. She can raise the spirits of dead animals--most importantly, her ghost dog Kirby. When her beloved cousin dies, all signs point to a car crash, but his ghost tells her otherwise: He was murdered.

Cover of Fierce as the Wind
Tara Wilson
Redd

In order to cope with a traumatic breakup and the uncertainty of life after high school, seventeen-year-old Miho decides to complete a triathlon and with the help of her family and friends learns just how far her determination can take her.

Cover of Firekeeper’s Daughter
Angeline
Boulley

Daunis, who's part Ojibwe, defers attending the University of Michigan to care for her mother and reluctantly becomes involved in the investigation of a series of drug-related deaths.

Cover of Fire Song
Adam Garnet
Jones

How can Shane reconcile his feelings for David with his desire for a better life? Shane is still reeling from the suicide of his kid sister, Destiny. He tries to share his grief with his girlfriend, Tara, but she's too concerned with her own needs to offer him much comfort. Shane's rocky road to finding himself takes many twists and turns, but ultimately ends with him on a path that doesn't always offer easy answers. Adapted from the award-winning film.

Cover of Give Me Some Truth
Eric
Gansworth

Carson Mastick is entering his senior year of high school and desperate to make his mark, on the reservation and off. A rock band -- and winning Battle of the Bands -- is his best shot. But things keep getting in the way. Small matters like the lack of an actual band, or his brother getting shot by the racist owner of a local restaurant. Maggi Bokoni has just moved back to the reservation with her family. She's dying to stop making the same traditional artwork her family sells to tourists (conceptual stuff is cooler), stop feeling out of place in her new (old) home, and stop being treated like a child. She might like to fall in love for the first time too.

Cover of Hunting By Stars (A Marrow
Cherie
Dimaline

Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to pop-up residential schools and has spent the years heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But when French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is--and what it will take to escape.

Cover of Standing Strong
Gary
Robinson

After a failed suicide attempt, seventeen-year-old Rhonda Runningcrane is inspired to help a crew protesting against an oil company running a pipeline through sacred Native land in North Dakota. An inspiring Native elder at the camp takes Rhonda under her wing, and the girl begins to heal from the wounds of her past.

Nonfiction Titles

Cover of Apple: (Skin to the Core)
Eric
Gansworth

Eric Gansworth tells his story, the story of his family--of Onondaga among Tuscaroras--of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds.

Cover of Everything You Wanted to K
Anton
Treuer

From the acclaimed Ojibwe author and professor Anton Treuer comes an essential book of questions and answers for Native and non-Native young readers alike. Ranging from Why is there such a fuss about nonnative people wearing Indian costumes for Halloween? to Why is it called a 'traditional Indian fry bread taco'? to What's it like for natives who don't look native?

Cover of Fighter in Velvet Gloves:
Annie Boochever and
Roy Peratrovich Jr.

“No Natives or Dogs Allowed,” blared the storefront sign at Elizabeth Peratrovich, then a young Alaska Native Tlingit. The sting of those words would stay with her all her life. Years later, after becoming a seasoned fighter for equality, she would deliver her own powerful message: one that helped change Alaska and the nation forever. In 1945, Peratrovich stood before the Alaska Territorial Legislative Session and gave a powerful speech about her childhood and her experiences being treated as a second-class citizen. Her heartfelt testimony led to the passing of the landmark Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act.

Cover of An Indigenous Peoples' His
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz Adapted by
Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese

Spanning more than 400 years, this classic bottom-up history examines the legacy of Indigenous peoples' resistance, resilience, and steadfast fight against imperialism. Indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity.

Cover of Native Women Changing Thei
Patricia
Cutwright

The 12 Indigenous women featured in this book overcame unimaginable hardships--racial and gender discrimination, abuse and extreme poverty--only to rise to great heights.

Cover of A Man Called Horse: John H
Glennette Tilley
Turner

John Horse was a famed chief, warrior, tactician, and diplomat who played a dominant role in Black Seminole affairs for half a century. A political and military leader of mixed Seminole and African heritage, Horse defended his people from the U.S. government, other tribes, and slave hunters by serving as a counselor of fellow Seminole leaders, an agent of the U.S. government, and a captain in the Mexican army.

Cover of The Power of Style
Christian
Allaire

As a fashion-obsessed Ojibwe teen, Christian Allaire rarely saw anyone that looked like him in the magazines or movies he looked to for inspiration. Now the Fashion and Style Writer for Vogue, he is working to change that--because clothes are never just clothes. Allaire takes the reader through boldly designed chapters to discuss additional topics like cosplay, make up, hijabs, and hair, probing the connections between fashion and history, culture, politics, and social justice.

Cover of #NotYourPrincess: Voices o
Lisa Charleyboy and
Mary Beth Leatherdale (editors)

#NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

Graphic Novels

Cover of Borders
Thomas
King
Natasha Donovan

A boy and his mother refuse to identify themselves as American or Canadian at the border and become caught in the limbo between nations when they claim their citizenship as Blackfoot.

Cover of Four Faces of the Moon
Amanda
Strong

On a journey to uncover her family's story, Spotted Fawn travels through time and space to reclaim connection to ancestors, language, and the land. Adapted from the acclaimed stop-motion animated film of the same name, Four Faces of the Moon brings the oral and written history of the Michif, Cree, Nakoda and Anishinaabe Peoples and their cultural link to the buffalo alive on the page. 

Cover of A Girl Called Echo
Katherena
Vermette
Scott B. Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk

An ordinary day in Mr. Bee's history class turns extraordinary, when Echo finds herself transported to another time and place--a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie. Join Echo as she visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.

Cover of If I Go Missing
Brianna
Jonnie
Nshannacappo

Derived from excerpts of a letter that went viral and also the basis of a documentary film. In her letter, Jonnie calls out the authorities for neglecting to immediately investigate missing Indigenous people and urges them to not treat her as the Indigenous person she is proud to be if she were to be reported missing. Through the illustrations, the artist imagines a situation in which a young Indigenous woman does disappear, portraying the reaction of her community, her friends, the police, and media.

Cover of This Place: 150 Years Reto
Various authors and illustrators

Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Cover of Trickster: Native American
Matt
Dembicki

In Native American traditions, the trickster takes many forms, from coyote or rabbit to raccoon or raven. The first graphic anthology of Native American trickster tales, this brings together Native American folklore and the world of comics. 24 Native storytellers were paired with 24 comic artists, telling cultural tales from across America ranging from serious and dramatic to funny and sometimes downright fiendish.